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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners address pipeline concerns

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  • Harvey County Commissioners addressed concerns from community members about a proposed pipeline project that would pass through Harvey County.
    At a previous commission meeting, Dick Sears, director of land and right-of-way with Tallgrass Energy Partners, gave a presentation about the company's pipeline project.
    The Tallgrass Pony Express Pipeline (formerly the Kinder Morgan Pony Express Pipeline) originally was built in the 1950s as an oil pipeline, and then was converted to a natural gas pipeline in 1996. The proposed project will convert the Pony Express Pipeline back to transporting oil and will expand the pipeline down through Kansas to Cushing, Okla.
    The project involves converting 430 miles of existing pipeline from natural gas to oil, as well as constructing a 260-mile pipeline extension. The pipeline will have a volume of an estimated 230,000 to 320,000 barrels per day and will carry light, sweet crude.
    During the citizens forum at Monday's commission meeting, a community member said he felt landowners had not been given enough information about the pipeline project and were not properly informed about their rights. He also felt commissioners had misrepresented voters on this issue.
    Commissioner Chip Westfall said the commissioners have attempted to research answers to all the questions community members have asked.
    Commission chair Marge Roberson said while voters may not always agree with commissioners' views on issues, the commissioners do care about what the public thinks and try to balance all sides. While the company will be paying county taxes, the issue is not just about potential revenue.
    "We are always concerned about how it's going to affect our roads, how it's going to affect other things," she said.
    John Waltner, county administrator, said the county has not yet released a specific figure estimating how much revenue the county could receive in taxes, because many factors remain in flux. He does not want to put out information that could later prove to be incorrect.
    "There are all sorts of variables that are going to impact that number before this is complete," he said.
    Construction on the pipeline is slated to begin in the summer of 2013, and it is expected to be in service by the summer of 2014. The pipeline will be monitored 24/7, and if there is a break in the pipeline, it can be shut down remotely.
    Other business
    Commissioners also heard an update on a proposed bicycle safety sign project.
    At a previous meeting, the ReNewton Bicycling Initiative group requested signs promoting bicycle safety be placed on county roads. The group wanted to see about 70 traffic signs placed on county roads to remind motorists to look out for bicycles and that by law, motorists must give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them on the road.
    Page 2 of 2 - The group proposed to pay for the cost of the signs, about $1,000, if the county would take care of the cost of installation (posts, labor, etc.).
    John Waltner, county administrator, said the signs have been delivered and are ready to be installed, but the county has to wait for the Kansas Department of Transportation to approve them.
    Waltner anticipates the signs will be approved because they follow a design that has been used elsewhere in the United States.
    Jim Meier, county Road and Bridge superintendent, said the signs aren't meant to encourage people to swerve out into oncoming traffic to pass a bicycle; drivers need to make sure to only pass when it is safe.
     

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